by Pamela Tinkham, LCSW, C-IAYT, SEP
How do you stay in the light when darkness seems to prevail?
What do we mean by staying in the light? The “Light” is all that is good in the universe. It is all that is holy or sacred. You can even refer to it as God or as the Divine within. Whatever your beliefs are there is no doubt that we are in a world of duality where there are opposites in many ways and darkness and light are just one example. The ideal would be to have this duality come closer to a unity where we embrace some of the darkness and permeate some of the light into the darkness. The goal would be to not hide from the darkness or act out in fear of it which causes all kinds of world suffering.
In layman’s terms we are talking about good and evil and we all have a little of both
In Judeo Christian beliefs, it is said that the meaning of suffering is to bring you closer to the Light; perhaps to learn a lesson within the suffering and to appreciate the good when we have it. In Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), it is also said that we may not understand the pain and suffering and we should embrace and actually bless it anyway because God is good and He would not give us anything we cannot handle and there is a blessing in disguise that has not yet been revealed.
In Hinduism, the belief is about Karma and that our soul carries with it an imprint of our past actions. he belief is that if we are suffering in this lifetime we may have done something in a previous lifetime that was harmful to others and we have to pay back the karmic debt because of the pain we caused others. The belief also states that by doing virtuous acts in every moment of every day we will create good karma that will help clear the bad karma. Specifically meditation and yoga can help clear out any bad karma that is lurking.
Buddhism has a similar view about past lives and karma and states that pain and suffering are caused by attachment and we need to embrace that everything changes. Once we detach from things that seem so important, we can lesson our pain and suffering. The belief is that nothing in our human experience can provide us with lasting happiness and that trying to force things to stand still and make us happy is the main source of suffering.
The Taoists believe that birth is not a beginning and death is not an end. There is an existence without limit because the soul is eternal. The goal of Taoism and Buddhism is to transcend life on earth as a physical being, and to achieve harmony with nature and the universe. Therefore, the view on pain and suffering is also about detachment to material things. According to the Tao, one can achieve Nirvana (bliss) through proper living and following the correct path guided by inner light. Therefore, pain and suffering come from not following this inner light and guidance and by making poor choices in life.
Pamela Tinkham LLC incorporates all these ideas and philosophies when dealing with this topic. Unfortunately, when darkness hits it seems to take over completely and we need to stay focused on the one percent that is still going well in our life, not on the 99% that is going haywire! Focus on what is hopeful, not on what is dreadful. Keep a gratitude journal and write at least one thing every day that you are grateful for. Trust and have faith during these times of darkness that it will change because life always changes. It may not be in the timing that you want and that is where patience comes into play. If you focus on what is good, positive or the “Light” in each situation the “Darkness” will start to dissipate… and over time it will be gone. With time and patience, the Light will return even stronger than it was before and your understanding and connection to the Light as well will be strengthened by the intimacy with the Divine that was caused throughout all the pain and suffering.
This may sound confusing and maybe even too religious for some tastes. Again in simple terms, we need to be the best person we can be and do the best we can do in this lifetime even when things seem to be beating us up. Don’t try to analyze why this is happening or have an attitude of, “Woe is me, this is the card I was dealt, I must be cursed!” Just make wise choices and continue being a good person and it will turn around over time. Continue giving and sharing and being open even if pain and suffering cause you to want to shut down and become selfish. To live a life of generosity is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and the world. Peace begins with one soul at a time and we can all make a difference. Even if it seems so small the reality is that love, generosity and joy are contagious and just small acts of kindness can bring about great change over time.
Unfortunately, we all have to deal with pain and suffering at one or many points in our lives and there is no easy way around it. The more we ground ourselves in meditation, prayer and doing joyous activities, the easier it will be to ride the wave when problems arise.
As said in the Buddhist Loving Kindness Metta Meditation:
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be free from pain and suffering
May you be safe
Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to sharing with you all the yogic philosophy I will be learning in the next two months.
Namaste! (The Light in me honors the Light in you)